Public Policy and Courts


Public policy is a broad concept that is impossible to define precisely. Perhaps the only realistic way to define it is to say that a court’s view of public policy is determined by what the court feels is in the best interests of society. Public policy may change with the times; changing social and economic conditions may make behavior that was acceptable in an earlier time unacceptable today, or vice versa.

There is therefore no simple rule for determining when a particular bargain is contrary to public policy and illegal. Public policy includes immoral and unethical agreements, even though they may not call for the performance of an illegal act. The courts have broad discretion in ruling on questions of public policy, and the discretion can provide the legal system with a degree of healthy flexibility. However, the courts may differ in their views of what constitutes desirable public policy—a difference that can make  a contract legal in one state/province and illegal in other.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Illusory Promises


For a promise to constitute consideration, it must actually promise something without being illusory. One party to the agreement is not bound anyway. When one party is not legally bound, neither should the other party be. There is no contract because of an absence of consideration. An agreement between the parties to agree on something in the future is regarded as too indefinite to make a contract.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Elements of Public Policy


The governmental action of any nation can be understood in terms of several basic elements of public policy. Many factors, or inputs, influence the development of public policy. Government may determine its course of action on the basis of economic or foreign policy concerns, domestic political pressure from constituents and interest groups, technical information, and ideas that have emerged in national politics. Public policy also may be influenced by technical studies of complex issues such as taxation or the development of new technologies such as fiber optic electronics. All of these inputs can help shape what the government chooses to do and how it chooses to do it.

Public policy goals can be noble and high-minded or narrow and self-serving. National values, such as freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity for citizens to share in economic prosperity—that is, high-minded public policy goals—have led to the adoption of civil rights laws assistance programs for those in need. Narrow, self-serving goals are more evident when nations decide how tax legislation will allocate the burden of taxes among various interests and income groups. Public policy goals may vary widely, but it is always important to inquire: what public goals are being served by this action?

Governments use different public policy tools, or instruments, to achieve their policy goals. In general, the instruments of public policy are those combinations of incentives and penalties that government uses to prompt citizens, including businesses, to act in ways that achieve policy goals. Governmental regulatory powers are broad and constitute one of the most formidable instruments for accomplishing public purposes.

Public policy actions always have effects. Some are intended, others are unintended. Because public policies affect many people, organizations, and other interests, it is almost inevitable that such actions will please some and displease others. Regulations may cause businesses to improve the way toxic substances are used in the workplace, thus reducing health risks to employees. Yet it is possible that other goals may be obstructed as an unintended effect of compliance with such regulations.

In assessing any public policy, it is important for managers to develop answers to four questions:

  • What inputs will affect the public policy?
  • What goals are to be achieved?
  • What instruments are being used to achieve goals?
  • What effects, intended and unintended, are likely to occur?

The answers to these questions provide a foundation for understanding how any nation’s public policy actions will affect the economy and business sector.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Meaning Transfer


The culture and social systems in which marketing communications takes place are loaded with meaning. Through socialization, people learn cultural values, beliefs, and become familiar with the artifacts that are associated with these values and beliefs. The artifacts of culture are charged with meaning, and this meaning is transferred from generation to generation.

Marketing communicators attempt to draw meaning from the culturally constituted world and transfer that meaning to consumer goods. Advertising is an especially important instrument of meaning transfer. The role of advertising in transferring meaning has been described in this fashion.

When exposed to advertising, the consumer is not merely drawing information from the ad but is actively involved in assigning meaning to the advertised product.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Principles of Crisis Management


What does one do when a crisis comes? There are some principles, not rules that can be useful to managers facing a crisis:

Define the real problem: Crises tend to face managers to think short term and focus on the narrow problem at hand. The crisis management team should ask several reflective questions: What would constitute a good job in managing this crisis? What can we accomplish? What is impossible?

Set Goals and Define the Crisis Strategy in Light of Those Goals: The urge to act first, think later is hand to resist when facing a crisis. The better the course is to have some managers actively thinking about the goals—What do we want to accomplish? How do we want to be perceived by the media? By our shareholders? By our employees and customers?

Manage the flow of Information: Experts advise managers to tell the story their way, consistently, and frequently. Because electronic media repeat crisis stories quite frequently in a typical news day, managers have an opportunity to correct errors and should not permit an erroneous statement to stand unchallenged.

Adopt a Team Approach: It is important to have one spokesperson designated at the outset and available to act on the company’s behalf immediately. Successful companies have thought in advance about the skills each crisis team should possess. Legal, media, and government relations skills are essential in many crisis situations.

Plan for the worst case: A crisis always has the potential to worsen, and managers need to anticipate the worst case possibility. It is tempting to assume a crisis will pass and the world will return to normal. It is wise to prepare for the worst.

Plan on the Situation Getting Worse: By doing so, an organization can begin to see ahead and create contingency plans for communicating with key stakeholders, deploying resources, and organizing other companies and people for action.

Follow up after the Crisis is Over: Many contacts with stakeholders occur during a crisis. A company can restore its image and reputation by dedicated follow-up to stakeholders.

Use Technology: Information technology can be a powerful aid to a company facing a crisis and needing to communicate with stakeholders. A company should measure the effectiveness of communication message through polling, surveys, and focus-group interviews.

Don’t Give up: As bad as it can be for an organization, a crisis rarely destroys a well-managed business. Leadership is vital if an organization’s internal and external stakeholders are to believe that there is a bright future beyond the crisis.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Sources of Innovation


The environment constitutes a very important source of innovations. Since tacit technological and market knowledge is best transferred by personal interaction, local environments that are good sources of innovation can make it easier for local firms to recognize the potential of an innovation. Take the presence of related industries. Being close to the supplier or complementary innovators increase the chances of a firm’s being able to pick up useful ideas from them.

Being close to universities or other research institutions helps in two ways. First, these institutions train personnel that can go on to work for firms or found their own companies. The knowledge that they acquire gives them the absorptive capacity to be able to assimilate new ideas from competitors and related industries. Second, scientific publications from the basic research often act as catalyst for investment by firms in applied research.

Finally, governments play a critical role in the ability of firms to recognize the potential of innovations. Their role can be direct or indirect. The direct role may be in the sponsoring of research. The indirect role is in regulation and taxation: lower capital gains taxes or other regulations that allow firms to keep more of what they make can allow them to spend more on innovation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

An Advice to Change Leaders: Persuade Indirectly


In large organizations, it is not feasible to persuade people through one-on-one communication. Particularly, if the organization is multi-locational, persuasion has to be through indirect means such as memos, speeches and newsletters. Change leaders also need to build capabilities in persuading others indirectly. The following guidelines can help managers be effective in indirect persuasion:

  1. Neutralize the power of informal networks: Change leaders need to develop reliable communication channels to communicate their change agenda directly to employees in the organization. Otherwise people will rely on informal grapevine that can distort the change message either unintentionally or deliberately. In either case, employees may develop unfavorable perceptions of the change agenda leading to opposition and resistance. Communication channels such as employee forums, town meetings and special newsletters can counter the grapevine and informal networks. Change leaders must be particularly careful in not withholding bad news because such news gets out very quickly into the grapevine.
  2. Repeat the message: Focus and repetition are critical for effective communication. This means that the change agenda should consist of only a limited number (two or three, at best) of themes. These themes need to be repeated and reinforced through different communication channels.
  3. Match the medium to the message: Speeches and video-conferences are ideal to communicate vision and values; these media are also appropriate to inspire people to embrace change. On the other hand, data, graphs and charts are best conveyed in the written form—such as memos, newsletters and web pages. Change leaders must think very carefully about appropriate media before communicating their change agenda.
  4. Simplify the message: The change agenda needs to be conveyed through a framework that is conceptually simple and easy to grasp. Yet, change leaders must avoid the trap of oversimplification. Oversimplified messages sound trite and faddish and can significantly reduce the credibility of the communicator. Simple frameworks are easy to remember, and are also powerful in framing the change agenda to mobilize support.
  5. Create a new story about change: Stories constitute a powerful medium to mobilize support. People are more likely to remember stories rather than facts and figures. Stories are also more effective in persuading people to alter their perceptions of change. Therefore change leaders need to be able to craft their change agenda in the form of story.
  6. Build personal credibility: Change leaders who are respected, considered trustworthy and competent are more likely to be effective in persuading their employees to embrace change. Personal credibility is built on the foundation of consistency. Change leaders must demonstrate consistency between their thoughts, words and behavior. Inconsistent, self-serving behavior can severely erode the credibility of a leader.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Management of Creativity


Creativity has been defined in dozens of ways, but essentially it means the process by which novel but situationally appropriate outcomes are brought about. The field of creativity is in full bloom. Thousands of pieces of research have probed creativity. These researches have x-rayed such opaque matters as what kind of people are creative individuals; what motivates them; how creative people go about identifying, defining, and solving problems; what efforts are creative; what constitutes creative thinking, what techniques aid creative problem solving; what sorts of environments foster creativity; the assessment of creativity and the level of creativity of human efforts; etc.

The management of creativity in organizational settings is relatively far less researched, but is of great importance in a world of huge collective challenges and fierce competition. It fuses two fields—management and creativity. Management can be defined in many different ways, but broadly it is an organized effort at improving the functioning of organizations through such processes as the fixing of goals, the development and implementation of a strategy for achieving goals, the control of operations to ensure that goals are being met, the coordination of interdependent activities, the creation of structures and systems, the management of human resources as well as of other stakeholders and so forth.

As a field, the management of creativity has some distinctive aspects that differentiates it from general creativity. The management of creativity involves various collectives: dyads, teams, departments and divisions, organizations, associations of organizations, even governance systems of communities and societies. Even when one is discussing managerial creativity (the creativity of individual managers), the focus is on creativity displayed in a collectivity and relating to the various tasks that need to be performed in that collectivity. The work-related context channels creativity in important ways—towards achieving the goals of the collectivity and in discharging various management functions. The focus is not ‘pure’ art or science, or individual self-actualization, but on creative behavior in an organizational setting in which the organization’s goals, policies, structures, systems and so forth call the shots. Although individuals working in organizations certainly attempt to pursue their own interests, they do so keeping in mind organizational requirements, and this feature strongly influences the form that creativity takes in organizational settings.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Mobilizing Support for Change Managers


Despite using the principles of influence, social networks and negotiation, change efforts in an organization can falter for different reasons. There has been a great deal of interest in finding out why people are so unwilling to stop out of their comfort zones and accept change. Some of the major  impediments to change are:

  • People believing that the change effort is yet another fad: Over a period, many employees have come to perceive different change programs as fads because they associate these with previously failed initiatives. As a result, they do not pay attention to the merits of the arguments. Change induces dissonance, and people often reduce the resulting stress by reverting to previously held assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • People who believe that change agents are not credible: Employees tend to view the strength of the change idea by associating it with the person who advocates that position. In other words, if the change manager is credible, the idea is seen as convincing. On the other hand, when the manager is perceived as untrustworthy, people tend to reject the change ideas.
  • People who have difficulty unlearning old ideas and approaches: Most often, people do not know how to stop what they have already been doing. When they are faced with uncertainty and ambiguity, they feel a sense of loss of control and this leads them to persist with their existing methods and approaches.
  • People who have difficulty learning new patterns of behavior: When people face unfamiliar situations, they often fail to comprehend the complexities of the situation. They may also feel apprehensive that if they try out new behaviors and fail, they would attract criticism. Faced with a fear of failure and believing that change would make little difference, they may refuse to invest in learning new methods and approaches.
  • People who feel that change threatens their identity: When faced with crises or threats, people tend to uphold their pride rather than appreciating the learning challenge that it offers. There is great comfort in existing belief structures, as these constitute one’s personal identity. Any attempt to change behavior may be seen as a challenge to that identity. As a result, it generates resistance to change.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Expertise


Whaereas intelligence is a feature attributable to most people, expertise is a scarcer commodity. This scarcity gives expertise its value and makes attempting to capture expertise worthwhile. The skills needed to process a company’s payroll would not, for example, be considered expertise. Although it may make sense to program this task, the ability to process payroll is not rare. Certain areas of expertise have more practical value than others. For example, expertise in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics may be scarce but is of less practical value than expertise in strategic management or auditing.

 The difficulty in acquiring expertise is what usually contributes to its scarcity. Expertise must be obtained from some source (e.g., an expert). Most companies make use of expertise either by acquiring it temporarily in the form of consultants or by sending a seasoned employee from site to site.

 One of the problem in defining expertise is understanding exactly what knowledge the expert has acquired and how it can be used. Expertise can be the ability to interpet Egyptian hieroglyphics, diagnose certain diseases, or formulate a strategic plan. For computers to perform specific tasks, they must be programmed to stimulate features of expertise. The goal of an expert systems development poject is to understand and embed scarce expertise in the computer program and use it to solve specific problems.

 The first question that must be answered concerns where to find the required expertise. The time spent answering this question, acquiring the relevant knowledge, and then encoding it in a program constitutes the bulk of the development effort.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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